Let me tell you my story…
I started my career as a journalist before moving into PR, copywriting and finally, content marketing. Needless to say I’ve picked up a few friends along the way and every time I get talking to them about their careers I hear the same things, ‘I don’t get paid enough’, ‘There are no jobs’, ‘I’m working in a dying industry’ and ‘It’s impossible to move up and make a name for myself.’ And every single time I tell them – make the move to content marketing. It’s the best thing I ever did!
Here’s Why Content Marketing Is a Good Fit for (Some) Traditional Writers:
1. Because Journalists Make Great Content Marketers (Says Harvard Business Review):
The first and very important point? A recent Harvard Business Review article says journalists are best suited to become content marketers. The author says, ‘trained journalists and writers are in the best position to synthesise information, capture a reader’s attention, and uphold a critical editorial standard.’ Amen to that.
2. Because You’ve Already Got These Skills (Pop Them On Your LinkedIn Profile):
- Writing– writers have the ability to craft a compelling tale that keeps readers engaged.
- Editing – writers are used to editing pieces for grammatical errors, maintaining consistency of tone, cutting superfluous words and sentences and formatting paragraphs for readability (or scannability).
- Curiosity – writers, especially journalists, have an innate curiosity for people and stories – a skill that will benefit any content marketer.
- Research – writers are used to conducting research, finding reputable sources to back up claims and crediting authors accordingly.
- Understanding audience – writers have a natural understanding of how the human mind works – perfect for working out target personas and tailoring content to meet audience needs.
- Working in fast paced environments – writers are used to meeting tight deadlines and working in fast paced and disruptive environments (not too dissimilar to fast growing digital environments).
- Creativity – writers are creative by nature which is an essential trait for content marketers who need to curate ideas for new titles, campaigns, etc.
- Excel skills – many journalists and PR professionals have excellent excel skills – these will come in handy for reporting on key metrics.
Here are the Big Benefits of Making the Content Marketing Move:
- Become in demand – there is a huge demand for skilled content marketers – according a study by the Content Marketing Institute 32% of marketers say they are challenged with finding trained content marketing professionals.
- Earn more money – according to arecent article by VentureBeat digital marketing salaries are on the rise, especially for the most in-demand roles like content marketing.
- Be more creative – content marketing provides more of an opportunity for ideas and strategic thinking – you have to fight hard to get your content seen and read and this often involves creative thinking.
- Benefit from endless opportunities – because it’s such a young and in-demand industry you can move up quickly into a managerial position (provided you’re good, obviously).
- Make an impact on businesses – you get to contribute toward the business’ growth and bottom line through increasing traffic, generating awareness, targeting the right people and generating quality leads.
- Measure your impact - you can measure the impact your content marketing has on the business’ traffic, lead generation and bottom-line – pretty satisfying.
How You Can Make the Switch from Traditional Writer to Content Marketer?
You need a mixture of three things – to learn the art of content marketing, to practice the art and to show real results for your efforts. I’ve broken them out into three phases for illustrative purposes but, as always, it’s best to practice as you learn.
Phase 1 – Identify Your Skills Gap
Okay now it’s time to really enhance your CV. First you’ll need to identify the skillsets you’re missing and those you’re lacking in. Then you can set about mastering them.
Some skills you’re lacking will most likely include:
- SEO – on page and off page Search Engine Optimisation that helps your blog posts rank higher in search engines.
- Content Distribution – amplifying your content’s reach and learning how to use social media, connect with industry influencers and use paid advertising methods to amplify reach.
- Lead Generation – generating leads through the creation of whitepapers that ask for prospect’s contact details, for example.
- Email Marketing - crafting, designing and tracking email campaigns that keep prospects warm and ready to buy.
- Analytics – tracking your digital marketing campaigns’ progress using Google Analytics, and social media insights, etc.
Hot Tip: For a comprehensive overview of the most important skills you need, check out this post,
Occasionally content marketing job descriptions may ask for the following also:
- Design skills like PhotoShop, InDesign and Adobe Illustrator.
- Video editing and marketing experience.
- Experience working with HTML and CSS
- Experience managing PPC campaigns
- Experience setting digital marketing budgets (usually for managerial positions).
Phase 2 – Learn (Everything You Can)
My Favourite Content Marketing Blogs to Read:
How to Discover Top Content Marketing Posts:
Use a tool like BuzzSumo to help you discover the latest and most popular content marketing posts (Top Content section) and the most popular content marketing influencers in the industry (Influencers section).
Follow Content Marketing Influencers:
Follow content marketing brands and your favourite influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn so you can easily keep up to date with industry news and best practice tips.
Some of my Favourite Content Marketing Influencers Include:
- Jeff Bullas @jeffbullas
- Rand Fishkin @randfish
- Joe Pullizzi @JoePulizzi
- Jay Baer @jaybaer
- Neil Patel @neilpatel
Courses to Help You Learn Relevant Content Marketing Skills:
Learn the Art of Inbound Marketing:
Take the HubSpot Inbound Certification course and exam to learn how to master blogging, social media, optimise your site for search engines, get your content found and more.
Learn the Art of Reporting:
Learn how to use Google Analytics to track your content marketing and digital marketing efforts with the Google Analytics Academy resources and complete the Google Analytics exam.
Get Certified in Digital Marketing:
Earn a Professional Diploma, Specialist Professional Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma or Masters Degree in Digital Marketing from – yep you guessed it – us. All course information is available here.
Phase 3 – Practice the Art of Content Marketing
1. Set up Your Own Blog
One of the best ways to practice your content marketing is to set up your own blog and begin writing. You can then create tactics to gather a following, learn how to distribute your content and measure your results. You can set up your own WordPress blog here and choose your preferred theme and plugins.
2. Set Up Goal Tracking & Learn How to Measure
Simply check out this blog post ‘How to Measure & Optimise Your Digital Marketing Campaigns With Google Analytics’ to learn how to set up goal tracking on your own blog.
3. Use Social Media to Distribute Your Content
Make sure you have an account set up on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If you have a personal Facebook account you might risk annoying your friends by posting your content. However, Twitter and LinkedIn are the perfect business focused platforms to help you get your content found by the right, influential people.
Hot Tip: Read this blog post, Master Content Distribution: Get Your Content Prize in Front of the Right Eyes’ to help your content marketing reach the right audience and volume of people.
4. Track Your Results
Track your content marketing results using a tool like Google Analytics. Some metrics you’ll want to measure that will indicate how successful your content marketing efforts have been include blog traffic, sources (where your traffic came from, e.g. social media) and leads generated (you can set these up as specified goals).
5. Guest Blog About Content Marketing
One of the best ways I learn about something is through writing about it. That’s why I always choose my subject matter carefully and make sure I can learn from it. Try guest posting to help you reach a wider audience and get in front of people who matter in the content marketing industry. Guest posting opportunities are endless. However, some sites are harder to get published on that others (but these are the one’s that are worth trying to get published on).
Some of the More Prestigious Sites Include:
Hot Tip: Check out this blog post, ‘The Ultimate Guide For Guest Blogging in 2015’ to help you get your blog post accepted.
Best of luck with your content marketing career!